GFC co-hosts a networking reception
Film makers at a networking reception hosted at AFM 2015 by the Gauteng Film Commission and Hoplite Entertainment. (Photo: Association for Transformation in Film and Television)

The Association for Transformation in Film and Television (ATFT), Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) teamed up to ensure that South Africa was well represented at the 2015 American Film Market (AFM) in Santa Monica, California.

The American Film Market is one of the largest film markets and conferences in the world. The 2015 edition ran from 4 to 11 November and saw over 2200 new films being presented to potential distributors from the US and across the globe.

South African Indies hit the road again

The ATFT facilitates trips to international markets and festivals by delegations of independent South African filmmakers travelling under the umbrella brand "South African Indies". This time round, the South African Indies comprised 16 emerging filmmakers.

"Over the seven days [of the American Film Market], South Africa was represented by a country stand on the main exhibition floor and a formal meeting room where a number of networking and promotional events took place," the ATFT said in a statement on their return to South Africa.

The South Africa stand at AFM 2015
'Come Shoot in South Africa' - the South Africa stand at AFM 2015. (Photo: Mayenzeke Baza on Instagram)

"The theme for stand South Africa this year was 'Come Shoot in South Africa', with the DTI, the Gauteng Film Commission and South African Indies promoting South Africa as an ideal filming location due to its favourable economic conditions, competitive rebates, ability to service blockbuster Hollywood films, and multiple opportunities for co-productions."

GFC co-hosted reception the highlight

The highlight for the South African delegation was a networking reception hosted by the GFC together with LA-based production company Hoplight Entertainment on Saturday, 7 November.

"Hoplite has been cultivating a relationship with South African Indies for a few years now with the intention of bringing and developing projects alongside South African producers," the company said.

"We currently have two separate narrative series, two films, and three unscripted TV series we are looking to bring into the region. As your market continues to grow and emerge, we are happy to come alongside you and help you grow."

New South African dance film showcased

Mayenzeke Baza and Pascal Schmitz
SA Indies co-founders Mayenzeke Baza and Pascal Schmitz at AFM 2015. (Photo: Mayenzeke Baza on Twitter)

One of the films presented at AFM 2015 was Pop, Lock 'n Roll, a new all-South African dance film which started shooting in Johannesburg and Soweto in October.

According to the ATFT, the film "garnered significant interest at AFM, with a subsidiary of Lion's Gate distribution interested in first sight of the finished product. AAA Entertainment [the Johannesburg-based film company which is producing Pop, Lock 'n Roll] is confident that this film will secure international distribution upon completion in 2016."

South African Indies also hosted a panel discussion at AFM 2015 on the topic of African co-productions, with a panel that included Pascal Schmitz from AAA Entertainment, Jon Volmink from Jobug-based Diprente Films, and Delon Bakker from Joburg- and Cape Town-based Mannequin Films. Mayenzeke Baza, who co-founded both SA Indies and AAA Entertainment with Pascal Schmitz, moderated the discussion.

South African films 'in advantageous budget range'

"Overall, the news for South African filmmakers at AFM was good," the ATFT said. According to AFM director Jonathan Wolf, the gap between high-budget films and low-budget indie films is widening, with ideal production budgets of US$20-million and above for the former and of $1-million and below for the latter.

At the same time, Wolf argues, the middle ground is disappearing, meaning that high-budget films and low-budget films are enjoying the most success when it comes to securing distribution deals, while films in the $3-million to $20-million range are struggling.

Schmitz said this was good for South African films, since most quality productions coming out of the country fell in the plus-minus $1-million budget range. "With an average of only 25% of films presented at market securing distribution, production budgets are an important determining factor that stand in our favour," Schmitz said.

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission